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Theater performance examines importance of ‘stuff’

The Object Lesson. Credit: Courtesy of Max Gordon

The Object Lesson. Credit: Courtesy of Max Gordon

From the eighth grade track T-shirt only worn once to the stuffed teddy bear one has had since kindergarten, objects have something about them that cements their importance in people’s lives. Theater artist Geoff Sobelle will come to The Ohio State University’s campus to shine some light on the human attachment to “stuff.”

“The Object Lesson” is not about sentimentality over materials, but more of an interrogation of the objects that have taken a hold over our lives, Sobelle said.

The performance will be an interactive one where the audience members will be allowed to look through boxes and items inside them. There are even some boxes labeled as ‘seats’ where the audience sits. However, throughout the performance, Sobelle might have the audience member move if he needs that particular box.

“I have always been fascinated by ‘stuff’ and ‘things’ and I have wondered at our attachment to them, at the mystery and absurdity of why we collect things and why things have relative value,” Sobelle said.

Jennifer Wray, spokeswoman for the Wexner Center for the Arts, shared about the upcoming performance.

“‘The Object Lesson’ is a unique theater piece about the significance of stuff; why we keep things, why we leave things behind,” Wray said. “This is a funny play, it’s a heartbreaking work, it’s got some magical moments, some bittersweet moments and comic moments. It really has it all. As an experience, it’s really different from what people think of when they think of theater.”

“The Object Lesson” is Sobelle’s first solo performance. He said he usually works with ensembles and thought that a solo piece would be a challenge.

Even though “The Object Lesson” is about questioning the meaning behind our value over objects, Sobelle said he still values his material things, although sometimes he could do without them.

“I love my things, but I often feel that they are a burden. I’d like to have a better handle on my stuff, but then I always wonder what happened to that throwing knife I had when I was 10,” Sobelle said. “I’m pretty sure the neighbor kid walked off with it, but it’s always bugged me that I couldn’t find it.”

The performance runs 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Tickets are $20, and half-price for OSU students.

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